Google’s Car Purchasing UK Report in April 2017 revealed that the investment in direct mail and online display by car dealers in the UK hit £115.9 million in 2016 alone. Car manufacturers have a large marketing budget to use, but not all sectors have this. With online platforms on the rise, visibility in the digital world isn’t cheap. Is it worth the cost? Vindis, a Volkswagen dealership, has explored the matter further. 

The motor sector

Google’s Drive To Decide Report, associated with TNS, reveals how potential car customers are turning more to the internet for information. Over 82% of the UK population aged 18 and over has access to the internet for personal reasons, 85% use smartphones and 65% choose a smartphone as their preferred device to access the internet. These figures show that for car dealers to keep their head in the game, a digital transition is vital.

Also, 90% of auto shoppers carry out online research before buying, according to the same report. 51% of buyers starting their auto research online, with 41% of those using a search engine. To capture those shoppers beginning their research online, car dealers must think in terms of the customer’s micro moments of influence, which could include online display ads – one marketing method that currently occupies a significant proportion of car dealers’ marketing budgets.

Second only to the retail sector, the automotive sector made up 11% of the total UK Digital Ad Spending Growth in 2017. The automotive industry is forecast to see a further 9.5% increase in ad spending in 2018.

How is this online research impacting sales? 41% of shoppers who research online find their smartphone research ‘very valuable’. 60% said they were influenced by what they saw in the media, of which 22% were influenced by marketing promotions – proving online investment is working.

TV and radio still remain as the car industry’s most used method of marketing. But in the last past five years, it is digital that has made the biggest jump from fifth most popular method to third, seeing an increase of 10.6% in expenditure.

The fashion industry

Marketing online can make or break a fashion brand, with 2017 hauling in £16.2 billion through online sales. This figure is expected to continue to grow by a huge 79% by 2022. So where are fashion retailers investing their marketing budgets? Has online marketing become a priority?

Almost a quarter of all purchased were attributed to ecommerce in December 2017. According to the British Retail Consortium, online brands such as ASOS and Boohoo continued to embrace the online shopping phenomenon  ASOS experienced an 18% UK sales growth in the final four months of 2017, whilst Boohoo saw a 31% increase in sales throughout the same period.

Big brands like Marks and Spencer and Next have invested millions into their online marketing campaigns to try and drive digital sales. John Lewis announced that 40% of its Christmas sales came from online shoppers, and whilst Next struggled to keep up with the sales growth of its competitors, it has announced it will invest £10 million into its online marketing and operations.

Shoppers are turning more to the online world than to the high street. According to PMYB Influencer Marketing Agency, 59% of fashion marketers increased their budget for influencer marketing last year – an essential marketing tactic in the fashion industry. In fact, 75% of global fashion brands collaborate with social media influencers as part of their marketing strategy.

Over a third of marketers believe that online marketing is beating traditional marketing, as of 2017. 22% of customers are said to be acquired through influencer marketing.

Marketing for utilities

Customers new and existing are turning to price comparison websites when looking at utilities. With comparison websites spending millions on TV marketing campaigns that are watched by the masses, it has become vital for many utility suppliers to be listed on comparison websites and offer a very competitive price, in order to stay in the game.

The largest comparison websites are among the top 100 highest spending advertisers in the UK – Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket, Go Compare and But does that marketing investment reflect on utility suppliers?

The rate of customer acquisition and customer retention can fall on comparison websites. If you don’t beat your competitors, then what is to stop your existing and potential new customers choosing your competitors over you?

Customer retention has become the main focus for British Gas. Whilst the company recognise that this approach to marketing will be a slower process to yield measurable results, they firmly believe that retention will in turn lead to acquisition. The Gas company hope that by marketing a wider range of tailored products and services to their existing customers, they will be able to improve customer retention.

Their loyalty scheme is set to gain a £100 million investment. This is to offer discounted energy and services, which focuses on the value of a customer, their behaviour and spending habits over time to discover what they are looking for in the company. The utilities sector is incredibly competitive, so it is vital that companies invest in their existing customers before looking for new customers.

Utility companies are already enjoying a digital spotlight. 40% of all searches in Q3 2017 were carried out on mobile, and a further 45% of all ad impressions were via mobile too – according to Google’s Public Utilities Report in December 2017. As mobile usage continues to soar, companies need to consider content created specifically for mobile users as they account for a large proportion of the market now.

Healthcare & marketing

The healthcare sector is restricted by heavy regulations when it comes to marketing. The same ROI methods that have been adopted by other sectors simply don’t work for the healthcare market. Despite nearly 74% of all healthcare marketing emails remaining unopened, you’ll be surprised to learn that email marketing is essential for the healthcare industry’s marketing strategy.

The last few years have seen a rise in email users, with 2.5 million people on average using it as their main form of communication. This means email marketing is targeting a large audience. For this reason, 62% of physicians and other healthcare providers prefer communication via email – and now that smartphone devices allow users to check their emails on their device, email marketing puts companies at the fingertips of their audience.

Healthcare should indeed look towards investing in online presence, with one in 20 Google searches being healthcare related. This could be attributed to the fact that many people turn to a search engine for medical answer before calling the GP. Pew Research Center data shows 77% of all health enquiries begin at a search engine – and 72% of total internet users say they’ve looked online for health information within the past year. Furthermore, 52% of smartphone users have used their device to look up the medical information they require. Statistics estimate that marketing spend for online marketing accounts for 35% of the overall budget.

And then there is social media marketing to consider. Whilst the healthcare industry is restricted to how they market their services and products, that doesn’t mean social media should be neglected. In fact, an effective social media campaign could be a crucial investment for organisations, with 41% of people choosing a healthcare provider based on their social media reputation! And the reason? The success of social campaigns is usually attributed to the fact audiences can engage with the content on familiar platforms.

So, should you invest?

Online marketing is clearly a crucial component across all sectors. With a clear increase in online demand in both sectors that is changing the purchase process, some game players could find themselves out of the game before it has even begun if they neglect digital.

Utilities companies in particular need to consider the bigger picture. Whilst TV and digital appear to remain the main sales driving forces, its more than just creating your own marketing campaign when comparison sites need to be considered. Without the correct marketing, advertising or listing on comparison sites, you could fall behind.

According to, the average firm’s 2018 expenditure on online marketing is to come to 41% of its marketing budget. This figure expected to grow to 45% by 2020. Social media advertising investments is expected to represent 25% of total online spending and search engine banner ads are also expected to grow significantly too – all presumably as a result of more mobile and online usage.

How much do you think the investment is worth? If mobile and online usage continues to grow year on year at the rate it has done in the past few years, we forecast the investment to be not only worthwhile but essential.